Professor Creates VR Experience for MS Patients
As you may or may not know, virtual reality has begun to hit many industries and is beginning to be utilized in several ways. Now, you can add physical therapy to the list of virtual reality uses.
A UTSA Professor, John Quarles, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) 11 years ago. He’s now created a virtual reality game called “Shark Punch” to help people with multiple sclerosis to rehabilitate through aquatic rehab.
Quarles said, “If you incorporate gaming into it and you can make it in an environment that you’re not experiencing your symptoms quite as much, then it makes it a lot easier to stay motivated, and stay with the rehabilitation program and stay active.”
The majority of the classes that he teaches focus around game development and virtual reality research, so it makes sense that he wanted to create a game to help people like himself, through virtual reality.
He said, “It kind of makes you lose track of time when you’re playing it, and it doesn’t really feel like you’re getting a workout because you’re just punching the shark that’s trying attack you.”
“Shark Punch” can be experienced on a cell phone attached to googles and a snorkel as well. The person is supposed to hit the shark when it “attacks” which then sends a signal to a sensor that’s wrapped around the person in the experience.
Quarles said, “One of the difficult things about multiple sclerosis, especially, is that you have a lot of changes that happen from day to day. So one day you’ll feel good and the next day you won’t feel good.”
It’s common for people with multiple sclerosis to get overheated while exercising, which in turns makes their symptoms even worse. By exercising in the pool, people with MS are able to maintain a low temperature and keep their balance.
Quarles said, “If I was playing this game on land, I could not play it for that long, because I can’t stand that long.”
He’s hoping that there will be additional games similar to “Shark Punch” that will incorporate underwater (aquatic) treatments to inspire people who are battling MS.